Jerrod Heard is a well-known name in football circles around the state of Texas, and has been for a while. Heard, a standout quarterback for Denton Guyer, is one of the top players in the entire country and he's a high-profile recruit who has led his team to great success on the field.
At Sunday's Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour (Dallas), Heard was one of the stars of the show with his play on the field and even in warm-ups. Heard was one of the most recognized athletes in attendance at the event, with a natural drawing power that seemed to have other players migrating his way for a quick chat before the competition began.
Heard is a quarterback. He's a state champion. He's a tremendous natural talent. He's incredibly personable. It's easy to see why he's so well liked.
He's also a Texas Longhorn.
The 6-2, 180-pound Heard probably could have chosen to attend any school in the country at the time of his August 14 commitment, but he had been a strong lean to Texas for quite a while and Heard said the decision to become a Longhorn was a pretty easy choice.
"Just when I went there for the unofficial visits and spring game, I really liked it. I felt at home, really enjoyed the love they gave me. I just wanted to make that commitment," Heard said. "Recruiting was getting a little hectic at that time so I just wanted to stop it. And I already knew I wanted to go to Texas so that was enough."
"That's all I knew was Texas."
When Heard first committed, the Texas offense ran a different style than it does know. Under Bryan Harsin's playcalling, the Longhorns slowed things down a bit in 2011 and 2012. Now being led by Major Applewhite and Darrell Wyatt, Texas has picked up the pace in 2013 and will focus on getting the ball into its top playmakers' hands.
"I like it. I think it will be really good in the Big 12," Heard said. "The defenses are changing, so we can spread it out and get it to our threats."
Heard stays in regular contact with Applewhite and Wyatt, and said he communicates with the entire UT staff to some degree. He also talks to other top recruits around the state via social media, touching base with top wide receiver KD Cannon and a handful of others.
"I'm hitting up a lot of people, just to see where they're looking, where they're heading," Cannon said.
Heard is helping carry on a strong recent quarterback tradition at Guyer, having taken the reins from current Oklahoma State standout J.W. Walsh. As good as Walsh was for the Wildcats, Heard hasn't missed a beat. He's put up strong numbers and came up big on the grandest of stages, rushing for five touchdowns and throwing for two in leading Guyer to its first state title in 2012 with a come-from-behind 48-37 win over Georgetown in the Class 4A Division I championship game.
Heard gives all the credit to those around him, including singling out his offensive line immediately after the state title game and passing along praise to the Guyer coaches for the success he and Walsh have enjoyed at the quarterback position.
"There's some talent but we also have great coaching. We have a great QB coach, that's all he does is look at QB drills, has me out there working on things," Heard said. "It's a lot of film work, a lot of drawing on the board, everything. It pays off."
Heard has an impressive skill set. He has a strong arm. He can make plays on the run. He makes good decisions with the football. But what really separates him from the rest of the pack is his ability to lead and an inner fire that burns hotter as the pressure mounts.
"I don't know where it comes from. I can get mad and I just know I have to score. I really can't say where it comes from, it's just natural for me. But when I get on that field and the whistle blows, I know it's game time and time to get after it," Heard said. "I'd say I play mad and relaxed at the same time. I have an anger out there, but I'm also smooth with it."
In 2012, Heard rushed for 2,138 yards with 35 touchdowns and passed for 2,090 yards with 17 touchdowns in leading Guyer to the state title. As a sophomore, he threw for 2,286 yards and 28 TDs while rushing for 650 yards and 5 scores. Heard ranks No. 5 on the Lone Star Recruiting Top 100 and is No. 73 on the Rivals100.